by Laura Freeman | Reporter
Hudson - City officials searched for some extra money to help maintain city roads — in funds dedicated to the TECHudson business incubator, demolition of the former Youth Development Center buildings and the annual carryover — as budget talks continued Nov. 19.
However, Council members agreed the city’s leaf pickup program should be spared and not scrapped to free up funds for road repairs. The $170,000 program utilizes 16 city employees and eight seasonal employees.
Council members want to spend $1.8 million, instead of the city-proposed $1.3 million, on road maintenance in 2013 and asked city officials Nov. 14 to find the funds.
The city has come back with a proposal for $1.6 million for road maintenance every year in the five-year budget, with $1 million of that each year dedicated to residential streets. In the previous budget, the $1 million for residential streets decreased to $750,000 in 2014 and $650,000 in 2015.
The city was able to increase the proposed funding for road maintenance by $290,000 by:
• Reducing funding for TECHudson by $75,000;
• Calculating the actual carryover from 2012 at $317,000 higher than estimates; and
• Reducing funding for demolition of the YDC buildings by $100,000.
Since the last budget meeting Nov. 14, City Finance Director Jeff Knoblauch revealed that tax collections for 2012 will be higher than previously estimated and a 1.5 percent increase per year would make income tax collections for 2013 nearly $13.1 million instead of $12.7 million.
Instead of beginning 2013 with a balance of $9.6 million, Knoblauch says the city will have a rollover of $9.95 million.
The $317,000 difference could go to road repairs, Knoblauch said.
In addition Council has proposed reducing funding to TECHudson, the business incubator which gets most of its funding from the city, by $50,000 in 2013 (to $75,000 from $125,000) and by $25,000 in 2014 (to $50,000 from $75,000).
Council also discussed reducing funding by $100,000 for demolition of the former Youth Development Center buildings on Hines Hill Road. The cost of razing all buildings in 2013 except Eastman School would be $812,665 financed at $100,000 per year for 10 years.
Council members were split on whether to demolish all 14 buildings at the center in 2013. Council members John Jeffers, William Wooldredge, Dennis Hanink and Dan Williams supported demolition, while Alex Kelemen, Hal DeSaussure and David Basil disagreed and wanted to mothball the buildings.
“I support demolition of all,” Jeffers said. “We don’t want to hold off. It’ll be cheaper now than in the future.”
Williams wanted Council to revise the budget and add the funding back in for demolition, but others disagreed.
“What is the rush at this time?” DeSaussure asked.
If a private party shows interest in the property, it wouldn’t have to pay prevailing wage to demolish the buildings like the city does, Basil said.
“I caution Council about proceeding too hastily,” Basil said. “Let them stand.”
Wooldredge asked for a future meeting to discuss the vision and uses of the property.
Knoblauch said funding of the YDC demolition would go back in the budget but would not affect the $1.6 million for road maintenance. If other reductions in expenses or additional revenue is not found, the end balance rolled over into 2014 would be less. The city tries to maintain a 40 percent end balance compared to expenses per year, which would be 45.79 percent in 2014 with the proposed budget.
City Manager Anthony Bales said the city will have more information about demolition of the buildings in December.